Results of the Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey that was conducted on sexual assault in post-secondary education has come out in the past year. This online survey, which was conducted roughly two years ago (during the 2017-2018 academic year), gathered information about the perceptions and experiences of sexual violence of students, utilizing questions on the themes of perceptions of consent. This included knowledge of sexual violence supports, services, reporting procedures, experiences of sexual violence, satisfaction with institutional response to sexual violence, and the behaviour of bystanders.
The section regarding perceptions of consent addresses opinions, attitudes, and beliefs about consent in various sexual situations. For this section, respondents were asked to indicate their level of agreement with statements such as “consent does not need to be given at each step in a sexual encounter”, and “mixed signals can sometimes mean consent”. Only five of the seven statements were negative, but in this survey higher disagreement percentages represent a more positive response. This is because these responses reflect disagreement with negative or potentially harmful opinions, attitudes, and beliefs about consent in various sexual situations. Trent gave a really good showing in that 93.1 percent of the 17,550 students surveyed strongly disagreed with the above statements.
The section regarding knowledge of sexual violence supports, services, and reporting procedures addresses understanding and knowledge about how and where to access institutional supports, or find information related to reporting incidents of sexual violence. This section asked respondents to rate statements such as “I understand how to access academic accommodations related to sexual violence”, and “I know where to find information on filing a formal report about sexual violence at my university/college/private career college”. Higher percentages for agreement represented greater knowledge or understanding, while lower percentages for agreement represent less knowledge or understanding. Trent students didn’t do as well here, with only 25.9 percent of the 12,535 students agreeing with the above statements. This indicates that there is a need for more education of students regarding supports and services available. However, another section regarding service satisfaction indicated that 70.9 percent of students were satisfied with the resources available, so while not many people know of or how to use the services, those who have are happy with the ones available.
The section regarding the experience of sexual harassment reflects the proportion of survey respondents who indicated that they experienced one or more incidents of sexual harassment since the beginning of the academic year. The Sexual Harassment Experience questions asked respondents about the frequency of sexual harassment experiences that have occurred since the beginning of the academic year. Trent students ranked with a 68.9 percent rate of disclosure. This indicates that a high number of them have experienced at least one of the thirteen acts listed above, thus showing that sexual assault and violence on campus is still largely a problem.
The findings of this report have largely agreed with the other findings I have made through my literature review of this project, in regard to a need for more resources on campus to educate students about the resources available and how to access them. It also supports my findings of how well Trent is doing in this area as compared to other Ontario universities. However, it didn’t cover the needs for more resources for the sexual assault supports, such as funding and an increase in staffing, which I have found through my interviews on the subject to be one of the major problems from an administrative standpoint.